Real Lovers Appreciate Their Differences

“Opposites may not always attract, but differences sustain a relationship.”

John Thurman – Get a Grip on Your Relationship Workshop

Take a moment and reflect on the early days of your relationship. How did you meet? Who made the first move? What were some of the things that attracted you to each other early on?

I would guess that at least one piece of the puzzle was some of the ways that your spouse was different from you.

The difference is one of the things that initially draws us to our partners. Have you ever noticed how a talkative, engaging extrovert could be attracted to a quiet, reflective introvert? How about someone cautious being drawn to someone who is filled with confidence.[1]

And while this is the case in so many relationships, many times, these differences can become distractions down the road, those cute nuances can move from appealing to appalling. As time passes, many of these differences can cause conflict, misunderstanding, and even alienation.

You and your spouse are two different people. You have diverse families of origin, varied family experiences. You may come from an intact family or a family that was impacted by divorce, death, or trauma.

You have different tastes and a sense of style, and I am sure you may even have a different set of expectations. Based on forty-seven years of marriage and countless hours in the chair as a therapist, I know that you have different personality styles and love languages.

Let’s look at a few examples. While you review these examples, be sure to check and see if any of these sound familiar. (I am grateful to my friends Steve and Cindy Wright at Marriage Missions for their colorful insights)

Planners vs. Flexers:

Planners are the individuals who love organization and structure. If you were to look into their cupboard, things would be organized, because everything has a place. They generally prefer that life be neat and tidy. They use planners, keep lists, and can usually tell you what they will be doing a month from now.

Flexers, on the other hand, tend to be more malleable, able to adjust to the ebbs and flows of life quickly. They can sometimes see planners as being inflexible and being control freaks. Flexers tend to be more “in the moment,” flexible, and laid back. They take life as it comes. Loose ends are not deal breakers because they believe that things find a way of working themselves out. Planners may sometimes see this type of behavior as lazy and irresponsible.

This can prove to be testy, particularly when a planner and a fixer are married.

Big Picture vs. In the Weeds:

Big picture people have a general focus on the prize. They tend to think in terms of moving in a direction that accomplishes the mission. They are doers. People who are “in the weeds” are the detailers of life, and Lord knows Big Picture people need folks who love the attention to details.

Big-picture people tend to be abstract thinkers who are likely to see the entire situation. People who are more attentive to details tend to see the nuances of a given scenario. Big picture people paint a great image of what they want to accomplish. However,  without the perspective of the detailers, they will miss the rich nuances of the details of the journey. It is essential to understand that if a couple is matched like this, both perspectives are crucial.

Risk Takers vs. Risk Averse:

One author cleverly divides these two styles into leapers and lookers. Leapers get an emotional boost when they observe an opportunity. They want to grab the opportunity while it is hot. As a general rule of thumb, they come across as fearless and maybe even somewhat reckless as they seem impervious to danger. Those who are more risk-averse tend to be more observant, careful, and are risk-averse. They like to check out the facts, gather the data, analyze the data and take their time to look at multiple options before making a decision.

As a couple, the risk-taker can get bored and may seek new and unique experiences. Those who are more reserved and less likely to take risks will find much comfort in the familiar, routine, and predictable. In marriage, the leaper would be advised to seek the counsel, insight, and plans of the looker. Likewise, the looker needs to be stretched by the leaper. Which would tend to keep the relationship exciting.

Extrovert vs. Introverts:

Extroverts love the excitement and connectivity of the crowd. They are expressive and responsive and frequently are energized when they are around others. Introverts, on the opposite end of the spectrum, would rather have a quiet time either by themselves or with a few close friends. Extroverts tend to be in the moment, whereas introverts tend to be reserved, thinking through options before talking.

Authors Shaunti & Jeff Feldhanm’s books For Men Only and For Women Only are two books that I ask all of the couples that I work with to read. These two books provide the reader with dynamic truths about the differences between men and women. Here are just a few of their insights.

How different areas of insecurity can lead to variable emotional needs. 

Men always question how others view them, so they are filled up by knowing that their wife notices what they do. Saying things like “thank you” or good job” to your man in the little things of life is almost the same as you receive a dozen roses and chocolate. When you verbally express gratitude to your husband, you are making him feel competent, needed, and respected, which are his core needs.

Now to flip the coin. Women need to be reassured of their spouse’s love every day. Many times guys are stunned to learn that 82 percent of women are deeply pleased by simple things like holding her hand, shooting her a text to let her know that you love her, or that you are thinking about her.

Another huge difference is that our brains and, therefore, our communications stages are different.

Neuroscience is blazing many new trails into the understanding of how unique, different, and complex and that men and women’s brains are entirely different. One of the interesting findings is that women’s brains are wired to think things externally. That could be the main reason women like to talk. It seems, in sitting with each other and sharing, they can process solutions. Men’s brains are more structured to problem solve through internal processing, that could be one reason most men are challenged to find a “talking solution.”

How does this work itself out practically? Most of us guys need to pull away from emotional situations to figure out what we are rethinking and feeling to talk about it later.

Women generally tend to process emotions by talking. What a woman doesn’t is a quick, uninvited response or solution because that would short circuit her processing. For our wives, these intense feelings need to be processed by talking, and we as men would do well to learn how to sit with her and draw out those feelings.

Another big difference that we need to appreciate is how different men and women express themselves sexually.

Learning to appreciate different styles when it comes to intimacy in the bedroom and other places can significantly enhance a unique sense of closeness. Special Note: There is probably no other area in a marriage that can present as many opportunities for misunderstanding as those intimate moments.

Ladies, contrary to popular opinion, sex is not just a physical need that we guys have; it’s primarily an emotional one. Think about that; the idea of intimacy for men as an emotional one, an idea that has almost been erased from the map. A husband needs to know that his wife deeply desires him. This type of affirmation gives men a deep sense of well-being that gently flows into every other area of our lives.  

However, many times a husband can avoid these painful feelings by engaging his wife in ways that she needs instead of expecting a response that he thinks she should have if she desires him. Testosterone gives most men the “microwave response,” the ability to be ready in a short time. Women are designed to be more of a “crockpot.” Ladies, please don’t be offended by the term. 

To use a foodie illustration. Would you rather have microwaved soup or a slow-cooked pot roast with vegetables that have simmered all day?

Men, she needs to feel close to us outside of the bedroom, so letting her know ahead of time could help get her in the right frame of mind.

In all fairness, these are generalizations, the key is to appreciate the difference and adjust accordingly and intentionally

Learning to value and work with your differences will provide you an extreme advantage in your relationship as you choose to grow as a couple, experiencing intimacy in multiple areas.

I hope this post will help you be open to understanding the differences and celebrate them as a couple.

Want to learn a little more about personality styles as you learn to appreciate the differences

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave me a comment. I will respond.

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[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201508/6-reasons-appreciate-differences-your-partner

One Word that Can Change Your Marriage: L.I.S.T.E.N.

Couple listening

Do you ever lay awake at night feeling distant or disconnected in your marriage? The truth is if you keep doing what you have been doing, you are going to get the same thing.

Do you want to have a more resilient, robust marriage? Do you want to begin to take some simple steps to turn things around?

You always have a choice to make a decision. You can do nothing, or you can choose to begin using some of the tools contained in this article to start improving your relationship within the next few hours.

These six insights are the results of 47 years of being married and sitting with couples as they worked through their issues as a relationship specialist.

Because I want your marriage to have a renewed sense of love, passion, and purpose here is a simple process that you can begin as soon as you finish this article. You can begin, literally right now, to build a more resilient marriage.

Here is a low-cost, high yield way to refresh and energize your relationship? While the focus on this article is on your relationship, these practical-proven tips will work in your day-to-day living.

I am going to take the six letters of the word LISTEN and show you how to add almost instant energy and purpose in your day to day actions.

Let’s jump in!

L – Lean forward and look into your partner’s eyes. I am not talking about a staredown, because that can get pretty creepy pretty quick. Instead, be intentional about looking into their eyes. FYI, it is reasonable to look into someone’s eyes and look away, so I do not want you to feel weird. However, studies are showing that more people struggle with this because of the blue screen of electronic devices.

I – Use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements. This is a tough one for so many of us. Yet, while tough, it is a skill that can be learned, click here for a free PDFon how to learn to trade in the old inflammatory “you” statements with uplifting “I” statements

S – Shared Responsibility. The blame game started in Genesis chapter 3 and continues until today. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard clients say something like, “I wouldn’t do “x” if she didn’t do “y”? Let’s face it most of us find it pretty easy to blame someone else, like our spouse, our parents, our in-laws, and God only know what else for the problems in our relationships. The hard truth is that it usually takes two people to screw things up, so rather than becoming an impotent blamer, assume responsibility for the issues you are struggling with and share the responsibility for it.

Dr. Jack Allen, a friend of mine, puts it this way, “If you make a mess, take ownership of it, confess it, then CLEAN IT UP!

T – Tenacious. Absolutely refuse to be wimpy and whinny. Lean into the relationship, face the issues with courage, be committed as a couple to work through the situation. The key concept here is resilience. Get help if you need it.

I am an old Tom Petty fan, and for years I have used his song “I Won’t Back Down,” as a personal theme to be tenacious in my marriage and in my own convictions. If you haven’t heard it in a while, here is a link to the video.

E – Encourage. The word means to give courage, hope, and confidence. Here is a secret that I have learned as both a therapist and a man married to the same woman for 47 years.

Men need three things: To feel needed, to feel competent, and to feel respected.

Woman needthree things: To feel valued, to feel cherished, and to feel secure.

If you think about these three needs, you will find that it will be easier to be an encourager.

N – Negate the negative. Make sure not to overthink the negatives in your relationship, if you do you will self-destruct! Instead, be intentional about looking for the good.

I want you to take a couple of minutes and listen to a vintage song that deals with the power of having a positive attitude. Here is Paul McCartney’s & Diane Krall’s version of Accentuate the Positive.

I know that was quick, but I also know that this little six-letter tool kit can enhance all of your relationships.

Here is my challenge for you. Pick the one that you feel you need to work on in your marriage to just do it.

I’d love to hear how this helps, so please feel free to comment.

Looking for some help in your relationship? Email John about getting a free marriage 30-minute marriage assessment.

Interested in doing a Couple’s Personality Consultation? Simply email John for more info.

Some Ancient Insight:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

5 Practices of Successful, Resilient Couples

five principles of successful couples, communicate

For the next four weeks, as my wife and I approach our 47th anniversary, I will be posting some articles about ways to build and maintain a long-term, resilient marriage.

What would you think if I told you I’d discovered 5 practices of successful, resilient couples, all starting with the letter C, that you could use to give your marriage a jump start?

Recently I was speaking to a group of about 140 folks at Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico. While my presentation was on Resilience and Stress Management, a couple of the participants and I get into a brief discussion about marriage and what makes some marriages work. I mentioned a few things like communication, compromise, being honest, you know the usual stuff and pretty much forgot about it and went back to the session.

Then, the other night we had several friends over for a dinner party, and while a couple of us were visiting we discovered that they had just celebrated their 46th anniversary, another was going to be celebrating 24, and we are preparing to celebrate our 47th next month. That is 117 years of marriage! While we didn’t get into the subject, I have known these folks for a while, and I could safely say, they demonstrate the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples.

So here are the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples or practices you can develop in your marriage.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Compromise – One of the things you learn about marriage, usually within the first few days or weeks is that a marriage is all about giving. Compromise is a vital part of any successful, enduring marriage. For two individuals to develop and work as a married team, you must learn to give and take. 

5 principles of successful couples, Clear the Air

Communicate – Your marriage will shrivel or thrive based on the number of meaningful discussions that you have. Communication in your marriage is like a life-giving river. When you fail to communicate you dam the lifeblood of your marriage. Do what you can, read what you need, spend the money necessary to guard your communication. Many potentially significant marriages crumble simply because of poor or no communication. 

Clear the Air, don’t hide your hurts. WARNING: I am not talking about downloading on someone. One of the components of a long-term marriage is that you allow your spouse to encourage, nurture, comfort, and support you. As couples learn to mutually do this, several positive things can happen. A few benefits include feeling accepted, which leads to more emotional connection, lower stress, and increased intimacy.

By the way, laughter can help clear the air!

Choose your Battles Carefully. When you have two people sharing the same space, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually, the conflict will ensue. So, don’t be blindsided by this. The critical thing here is to be careful to choose what you will be investing your energy in. Here is a helpful acronym from my friends dealing with addiction, the word HALT is one of the tools they use to avoid “falling of the wagon.” I believe it can also be a powerful way to lower the risks and level of conflict in your home.

H – Hunger is a physical and emotional need. Hungry people can be grumpy people, and cranky people tend to be more combative. 

A – Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that we all experience from time to time. Slow down and take some time to try and understand what is causing the anger and know how to express it appropriately. 

L – Loneliness – If you are feeling lonely and. or misunderstood, do you best not to isolate,but to find meaningful and safe ways to connect with your spouse. 

T – Tiredness impacts us across the board, body, soul, mind, and spirit. Realize that if you or your spouse are experiencing tiredness and fatigue, you are more at risk to fight.

You might want to check out my 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Hopefully, this acronym will help you in choosing your battles carefully.

Last, but certainly not least is what I believe is the most important one.

Want to receive my Free Ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage? Text the word Marriage to 33777.

Capitalize on trust, truth, and honesty. Dishonestly in a marriage is an almost sure-fire way to screw things up. Why?  It destroys trust. It sets a horrible example. It undermines your goals as a couple. 

Being married is at the same time, one of the best and toughest things you will ever do. My hope is that you will be able to use these 5 principles of successful, resilient couples to enhance your marriage.

Ancient Relationship Wisdom

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT 

So, which of these do you need to work on? Which one could you prayerfully consider doing this week? I’d love to hear from you.

Full Disclosure, this article was inspired by 5 Secret to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage by Dr. John M. Grohol. It was hard to beat his outline, though I have addressed the different areas a little bit differently.

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, maybe even begin a conversation.

Blessings,

John Thurman

10 Rules for Fighting Fair

10 Rules for Fighting Fair

Have you ever been at a party and overheard a couple say, “Oh, we never fight!” Don’t believe them! In this article I will show you ten rules for fighting fair.

Couples fight! We will be married 47 years this August, and we have had our fair share of fights. As a matter of fact, we had a pretty good one yesterday, as I recall it had to do with my being distracted by my new iPhone. The good news is that over the years, we have learned to fight fair. One of the traits of a resilient marriage is the ability to manage conflict.

Did you know that most of what we fight about really doesn’t matter? As a matter of fact, Dr. John Gottman, the leading authority says, “Our research has shown 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them — these problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face. They are either fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. [i]

The key to fighting fair is to maintain control. You do not have the right to be immature, childish, or abusive. If you do have legitimate feelings and issues, you are entitled to give a reasonable voice to those feelings in a constructive way. (That includes not being self-righteous or taking yourself too seriously.

So here are 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Make it private and keep it private. Fighting in front of your kids is nothing short of child abuse. It can and will scar them emotionally and spiritually all because you don’t have the self-control to keep it together until you can talk about it privately. It is not advisable to share information about your fights with family and friends – the information always gets twisted and enhanced.

Deal with the issue at hand. Keep it relevant. Stay on task! Focus on the problems rather than attacking each other. Don’t bring up old issues or grudges when they are not a part of the solution. Put boundaries around the subject so it won’t turn into a free-for-all. Limit the discussion to the one issue at the center of the conflict.

Stay in the room emotionally, keep it real. Deal with them, not with symptoms. Tell your spouse what is bothering you. Focus on the issue rather than the attack! When people are involved in a conflict, it is easy to feel flooded and overwhelmed, here is one quick free way to make sure you are staying in the room. Check your pulse if it around one hundred, 80 if you are athletic, then step back take a few moments and attempt to re-engage. 

Eliminate “You never,” “You always.” These phrases will always lead to someplace you really don’t want to go.

Avoid character assassination like the plague. Stay focused on the issue rather than ripping into your spouse’s personality, family, or past.

Don’t “mind read!”  Have you ever said or heard, “I know what you are thinking?” If you have, then consider yourself duly busted. If you are not sure what your partner meant by something they said, ask for clarification. Because asking for clarification always adds bonus points by slowing the conversation down. It lets your partner know that you are really trying to connect and understand. 

Stay on task! The mission is to resolve to conflict and come out with a “win-win” not an “I win you lose” outcome.

Be proportional in your intensity. You don’t kill a fly with a cannon. There are basically only two types of problems people have – solvable and unsolvable (or not solvable right now.) Everything that you disagree on is not an earth-shattering issue. Remember, you don’t have to get mad and upset every time you have a cause to be.

Commit yourself to openness, honesty, and acceptance. This will help you relax, listen, and give feedback.

Allow yourself and your partner to retreat and/or regroup with dignity. How a fight ends is crucial. Recognize when an olive branch is being offered to you (it might be disguised as an apology or a joke) and give each other a face-saving way out of the disagreement.

Action Plan

Are you serious about improving your relationship? If you are, I want to challenge you to review this article and pick two or three specific things you can do to make your next fight more productive.

If you would be interested in relationship coaching shoot me an email and we can set up a free assessment call.

Be sure to let me know what you are going to do in the comments.

Blessings.


[i]https://www.gottman.com/blog/managing-conflict-solvable-vs-perpetual-problems/12 Feb 2018

7 Benefits​​​ of Having Humor in Your Relationship

Cheap ways to strengthen your marriage by adding humor to your reationship.

Humor in Resilient Relationships

Several years ago, my wife and I had come to an impasse in our relationship. I was detached and living in my career; something men often do, and my wife was into other things. I wish I could tell you that I suggested some counseling, but no, I was too proud and bone-headed to do that. It was my wife who strongly encouraged me to make a call. Our counselor was a wise man who helped us learn to re-negotiate our marriage and reconnect. As we wrapped up therapy, he made a comment that surprised and encouraged us. He said, “Angie and John, like many couples that come to see me, you guys were way off track, but even in some of the tougher sessions you both maintained a healthy sense of humor in your relationship. That let me know that you two are going to make it.”

Those encouraging words were a gift to us nearly 34 years ago and have sustained us through the ebbs and flows of our marriage. Through the Winters, Springs, Summers, and Falls of our lives, we have managed to maintain humor in our relationship.

Humor, laughter, and joy have a powerful effect on health and well-being. It alleviates tension and stress, boosts the mood, raises creativity, and provides an excellent, drug-free energy boost. Humor brings people together and helps them manage life better. An occasional shared belly laugh is an essential part of a robust and healthy relationship.

Laughter and joy and playful communication are some of the most effective, free tools that can keep your relationship vital, fresh, and stimulating. Humor and laughter can keep your relationship exciting, light, and joyful. Want more sex, laugh more. Want to increase your overall well-being, chill out, and giggle.

Here are six things that laughter and humor can do to enhance your relationship.

1.     Links you to others. We are hardwired for relationships. Your happiness and health, in no small degree, depend on the quality of your relationships. Real connections are engaged in face to face, eyeball to eyeball, not in the glow of the blue tinted screens. And the laughter helps strengthen the relationship’s connect on several levels.

2.     Helps smooth over differences. Using soft humor often enables you to deal with sensitive subjects, work through disagreements, and gain a fresh perspective on problems.

3.     Develops resilience. A sense of humor is one of the keys to resilience. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress–such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. 

4.     Increases energy and relaxes at the same time. Joy, humor, and laughter relieve fatigue and relax your body while recharging your batteries and helps you get more done.

5.     Renews perspective. Most relationships, life, or job situations are not as bad when viewed through the window of joy and laughter.

6.     Increases creativity. Playfulness and humor release certain brain chemicals that loosen you up energize your thinking, and inspire creative problem-solving.

As we move into the summer months, I want to challenge you to be more intentional about experiencing more joy in your relationship.

I’d love to hear your comments, input

 and ideas. 

5 Valentine Shopping Tips for Men

Keeping things lite, fun, and romantic can strengthen your relationship.

February is here, and we all know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

John Thurman

Men, please get your shopping done before Feb. 14. If you wait too late, the roses will be wilted, and the selection of cards and chocolates will be pretty much picked over. It seems simple enough, but how many times have we men suffered from procrastination a condition related to waiting until the last minute to shop for your wife or girlfriend. Good news: There is a cure – buy early!

I got a chuckle out of this story.

Nuts About Love
 
“Driving through Southern California, I stopped at a roadside stand that sold fruit, vegetables, and crafts. As I went to pay, I noticed the young woman behind the counter was painting a sign. ‘Why the new sign?’ I asked. ‘My boyfriend didn’t approve of the old one,’ she said. When I glanced at what hung above the counter, I understood. It declared: Local Honey Dates Nuts.”

Contributed by Theodore Bologna

Here are five guy tips that will help you in your Valentine gift selection:


1. If you buy chocolate, make sure you don’t get it at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Buying high-quality chocolate shows her how special she really is. You need to know if she likes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, soft centers, assorted nuts or just plain chocolate.

2. I spent part of my young life helping my mom out at her florist shop. It was always interesting to see stressed-out men coming into the shop on the 13th or 14th of February hoping Mom could work a miracle. She usually did.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to pick up flowers at a florist shop or grocery store. If you want to earn extra points, spend a few extra dollars and have them delivered to her work site or home. Women have this fantastic quality: While the other women at her workplace will ooh and ah over the flowers you sent your spouse, they will walk away with envy, wishing their man had done the same.

3. When looking for a card, try to avoid the “ I know I don’t say it enough, but I really do love your card.” I promise she will not be impressed. Instead, you might ask one of the women at the store to help you pick the right card. Make your card purchase based on words she would like to hear. For an additional bonus, write a short hand-written note of love and appreciation.

4. Help your kids select a card or gift for their mom.

5. You do have permission to get your wife some cute, flattering pajamas. Just don’t buy anything too revealing, flashy or trashy. If you decide to get something on the naughtier side, just make sure she has pre-approved it. Remember the gift is for her.

In closing: Being thoughtful on Feb. 14 does not let you off the hook for the rest of the year. Your wife and or girlfriend desires to feel valued, cherished and secure 365 days a year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

10 Ways to Have a Happy Wife

Stages of Marriage

Want to have a happier wife? One of the keys to having a resilient, long-lasting marriage is to do what you can to make sure your wife feels good about your the relationship.

As a man, I had no idea how ignorant I was when I first got married!  Mom and dad were great examples, but about three weeks after Angie and I were married I felt like a complete idiot. While we have experienced all the seasons of life together, some with grace and others as a “hot mess” we have never quit. We have been in and out of counseling, read scores of books and attended more than a few seminars and retreats. And while both sets of our parents faced both great and tragic times, they hung in there.

I believe that as you read this article, you will be able to discover some nuggets of truth that will help you develop a more resilient marriage.

Here is a secret about most wedding days.

When the day arrives, there you are standing in front of a crowd of family, friends, and a minister. Then that magic moment occurs, your bride, the lover of your life appears at the back of the church or venue. At that moment you are filled with a sense of awe and wonder as your bride approaches the altar, and before you know it, the ceremony is in full swing. You exchange vows, you kiss, you greet your guests at the reception and off on a new journey we go.

Well, that is true for the most part. While he will have a blast at the reception, he is looking forward to the festivities ending and getting naked.

I know, right now some of you are going “Eew!” But alas, it is true.

Women, on the other hand, see things in a completely different way. When she faces you on your wedding day, she sees the man of her dreams, her hero, the man she has given her heart to. Now, here is the difference. When she sees him standing there looking so sharp and handsome, somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind she is thinking, he is my man, my mate, but I’ve got my work cut out for me as I shape him into my image of what I think he should be.

Well not that I probably have offended you, let’s jump into how to have a happy wife.

6 Basic Needs of a Wife

Once again, I’d like to start with a section from Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn’s book For Men Only.

Our Surface Understanding             What it really means.

Women need love.

   Even if your relationship is great, she likely has fundamental insecurity about your love, and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.

Women are emotional.

   Women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time – and these can’t be easily dismissed.

Women want security-in other words, financial security.

   Your woman needs emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to receive it.

She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen.

 When she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the issue itself. 

She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me.

   Physically, women tend to crave sex less often than men do – and it is usually not related to your desirability.

She wants to look attractive.

   Inside your smart, secure wife lives a little girl who profoundly needs to know that you find her beautiful and that you only have eyes for her.

I am so thankful for the work that the Feldhahn’s and others have done in helping men and women better understand each other.

I am also thankful for the loving patience that my wife Angie has extended to me in our journey. By the way, it is a journey that you do not complete until the end of your life.

So, with that in mind, what are ten ways that you can have a happy wife.

10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Wife’s Happiness

1 . Be as Attentive, Fun loving, and Adoring as You Were During Courtship or Close to It. 

I know you can have rough days. I spend my days with people who are in various states of crisis. I know it can be tough to be upbeat some days but do what you can. Studies of optimistic people show that they are less affected by adverse events and bring about brighter responses in other people.

2. Be More Affectionate

Before we talk about how to express affection to your wife, I want to review the job description of being a good husband.

  • Love, honor, and respect her.
  • Be sexually and emotionally faithful to her.
  • Listen without being judegemental

To your wife, affection means more than cuddling or holding her hands or having sex. She desires a sense of closeness from you because knowing you are close to her is paramount for her being able to stay in a relationship with you. 

For those of you that might need this simplified; if your wife does not feel connected to you, she will leave you at some level.

3. Support and Nurture Her Ambitions in and Outside the Home.

Roles are changing, and that is not a bad thing. More men than women work outside the home, but due to the economy, more and more women are either entering or re-entering the workplace or are starting home-based businesses. As your children grow and opportunities open up for your wife to pursue her pen dreams, will you be there to support her?

4. To Make an Effort to Understand How She is Different Emotionally.

Guys, our job is not to change her to be more like a man, but to acknowledge and respect your differences.

5. To Be Honest at All Times and Always Do What You Say You, Will, Do.

 To be clear. When I talk about honesty, I mean there is no room for lies about infidelity, addiction problems, or other vital matters that reflect on who you are (such as belief systems or underlying medical issues). You need to be accountable for what’s important the core issues, the crucial stuff, your promises.

6. To Share in Child Care and Domestic Work. 

 If you want to mess this up just come home from the office and tell her, you have already worked enough. Instead, catch your breath and help out a little, without any drama. Trust me, this will get you some points.

No matter where you have been in your marriage, you can show up for work today. You can begin, right now to protect your career as a husband by treating this day as if it were your first day on a new job called marriage.

7. Help her feel special.

Show your wife the same traits that make you valuable as an employee: focus, discipline, reliability, devotion, loyalty, stability, intelligence, and flexibility.

Be determined to get better at this job of being a husband.

8. Maintain your appearance! This may sound a bit juvenile, but guys, watch your hygiene, shower regularly, remember your favorite “hang around the house” clothes do need washing. Every now and then Angie reminds me that my closet space is beginning to smell like a locker. Just remember, this does not take much effort.

9. Plan some “us time” getaways. This does not mean inviting her to your elk hunt or boy’s weekend. It could be a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast, or maybe a day trip to a nice place. You could see where the cheapest “Southwest Airline Getaway” airfares are and go there. Being able to just get away from the day to day grind, and even the kids can go a long way in refusing both you and your wife.

   10.  Learn ways to maintain romance and specialness in your relationship. Spontaneous flowers and quality chocolates never hurt, post-it notes, and cards have never hurt. Do what you can to make her feel special.

You might want to check out my post – How to Have a Happy Husband

Action Plan

To use a baseball metaphor; No Major League hitter bats 1000, but if they are hitting 325, they are being well compensated. to be clear, we are not talking perfection, but intentional progess.

Forget Hollywood and Hallmark Channel stereotypes and don’t try to be a hero in some romance novel. Instead, apply some of your natural strengths to your job as a married man and see immediate improvement.

  • Focus on the benefits of marriage, not the day to day frustrations
  • Show your wife the same traits that make you valuable as an employee: focus, discipline, reliability, devotion, loyalty, stability, intelligence, and flexibility.
  • Be determined to get better at this job of being a husband.
  • Learn from your mistakes and don’t get your eyes stuck in the rearview mirror of regrets.
  • Commit yourself to the mission and responsibilities of your marital job description and reassess your progress as you go along.
  • For those of you who are Christ followers, “Love your wife as Christ loves the Church.”

Thanks to Scott Haltzman, M.D., and his excellent ideas from The Secrets of Happily Married Men. This article is adapted from that resource. Another couple of resources I like is For Men Only and For Women Only by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn

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10 Tips for Having a Happy Husband

This is the first part of a four-part series to help you have a meaningful Valentine’s Day. In a couple of days I will publish How to Have a Happy Wife.

With all the static about the Gillette commercial and the APA’s discussion about toxic masculinity, I thought this would be a great time to do a few posts about marriage. Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought it would be fun. After all, I have been married to the same woman for 46 years. In those forty-six years, we have had our ups and downs, great times and times that were pretty bad. We have had beautiful seasons of growth as well as seasons when things were pretty sucky and we could hardly wait until Springtime. Two key ingredients to building a resilient relationship are extending grace to one another and having an appreciation for the differences between men and women.

What Men Need

Ever wondered if there were any way to tell if your husband is a happily married man?

While every relationship goes through its seasons, here are some proven indicators that your man is happy in your relationship.
Shaunti Feldhahn, a bestselling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, author of For Women Only, shares some critical insight into men. Her book and its recent revision surveyed thousands of men across multiple socio-economic levels and cultural backgrounds. Here are seven revelations her research revealed. This is taken directly from her book.

10 Signs of a Happy Husband

Our Surface Understanding      What That Means in Practice

Men need respect. Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected
Men are insecure. Despite their “in control” exterior men often feel like imposters and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.
Men want more sex. Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.
Men avoid issues by “checking out.” Men address issues by first pulling away to process and think-so they can better talk about them later.
Men are visual. Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.
Men are “unromantic clods.” Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic-but hesitate because they doubt they will succeed.
Men care about appearance. You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making efforts to take care of yourself, and he will take on significant costs or inconvenience to support you.

Remember, these insights are from a well-respected author and columnist. She and her husband have also written a companion book For Men Only.

Here are some proven ways to help your man experience a more meaningful life and relationship.

  1. He knows that he can be himself without being judged or criticized. You see, there is nothing that can kill a relationship faster than criticism. Just to be sure, this goes both ways. Guys, being critical towards your wife is a guaranteed way to shut her down.
  2. He smiles a lot. He feels that you notice him and appreciate all that he does for you and that you do not take him for granted.
  3. He realizes that you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows that you will not put up with any bad behavior. He knows that your love is the “real deal” and respects it because he sees that it is not based on submissive compliance, but a loving choice.
  4. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like someone you aren’t, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and your relationship with him.
  5. He understands that you desire him and express it through physical intimacy. Every man wants a wife who loves physical intimacy. What do most wives want? A man who provides the intimacy that her soul longs for. You see men only need a place, but a woman needs a reason.
  6. He is around the house more, partially because he feels respected and admired by you. There is no love outside of respect. Feeling the admiration and respect of the one you love boosts self-esteem, increases intimacy, and promotes communication and passion.
  7. He speaks highly of you primarily because he rarely or never feels belittled, berated, or humiliated by you.
  8. He sees that you do not hold on to grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. The helps your relationship develop flexibility and adaptability, and keeps the possibility of a rewarding future intact.
  9. He is faithful to the vows he made with you.
  10. He seeks you for comfort and consolation. When your husband makes a choice to share his problems with you, it is an excellent indicator that he is happy with you even when he is feeling dejected and vulnerable.
    Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about these 10 indicators.

Are you happy with where you are? If so, outstanding! If you feel you need a little work, then pick one or two and try them out as a pilot project with your honey.

Need a great laugh? Check Mark Gungor’s In Two Minds Video


Shades of Grey or Shades of Love – Be A Better Lover. 

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(c) 2015 John Thurman
Shades of Grey or Shades of Love: How to be a Better Lover

John Thurman M.Div., M.A., LPCC

It is sometimes tough to love someone else. It is even pretty difficult to love your family. One middle-aged married man told his wife that if she loved him, she would have married someone else.

In the past several articles, we have taken a very brief overview of the nature of intimacy. In this closing posts, I wanted to give you some hints on how to love others.

Listen. It is impossible to be a better lover unless you listen. Many of the issues couples face stem from not listening. A young couple was meeting for dinner on the patio of a local restaurant after a crazy day at work. As they were settling into their chairs, he was tweeting, and she was on Facebook. In the midst of their multitasking she said, I’m so proud of you.” He responded, without missing a beat, “I’m tired of you, too.” Multitasking may be something good in the workplace, but not so hot if you are building a relationship. Listen to your partner as you would have them listen to you.

Overlook. Most of the things that can annoy us can be ignored. Our tendency is to retaliate. A friend of mine told me that his neighbor called him one morning at 3:00 a.m. to tell him that his dog was barking. He went on to say he called his neighbor back the next morning at 3:00 a.m. to tell him he didn’t own a dog.

If the person you are in a relationship with does something that annoys you overlook it. It takes a lot less energy.

Value. To value, people means to acknowledge their real worth as humans and a as unique individuals. An older pastor friend of mine who performs several weddings a year, recently told me about how he answers the question many young grooms ask. “Pastor, how much do I owe you for performing the ceremony? My friend just smiles and says, “Just pay me what you think she is worth.” Needless to say, he had a good income stream from weddings.

Encourage. You and I will never completely understand human behavior when you go to Cliff’s Amusement Park with your child, and you put them on the merry-go-round and try to get a cold drink. Every time you try to leave they call out your name, and you have to stay and watch, Why? Because we all have the need to be encouraged and appreciated as individuals.

These are the essential components of being a better lover. Listen, Overlook, Value, and Encourage. Do it every day, and you will demonstrate love to your partner, children, co-workers and others.

I hope the Shades of Love series has been helpful. 

Next series: Get a Grip on Stress, Anxiety and Worry.  Question? Did you know that Stress, Anxiety and Worry are the leading behavioral health issues in America. In the next several posts I will show you proven principles that will help you push back on stress, anxiety and worry.

Lighten Your Relationship Part 3

Lighten Your Relationship – Part 3

John H. Thurman Jr., M.Div. M.A., LPCC

In the past two articles we reviewed the overall benefits of Lightening Up Your Relationships, today, I will give you five proven tips you can use to lighten the load and enjoy the road in your relationship.

The benefits of humor and laughter to a relationship have been shown to improve physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. When you are relaxed and energized those closest to you also become energized.

So here are 4 the tips: (this is adapted from Laughter is the Best Medicine)

1.     Make sure both of you are in on the joke. Humor and playfulness can strengthen a relationship – but only when both of you are in on the joke. When playfulness is one-sided, it could be cloaked sarcasm, which is a form of anger. Playful and fun communication in a relationship should be mutually funny and enjoyable. Hint: If your partner is not laughing – it is not funny and might be hurtful.

2.     Learn to use humor to defuse conflict. This is one of the tools Angie, and I had developed over the years. One that our counselor encouraged. When things heat up in your relationship, one quick way to defuse the situation is by inserting a little humor and playfulness into the situation. When used appropriately it can help turn the energy of the conflict into a place of shared intimacy and fun.

3.     Don’t use humor to mask other emotions. As I stated earlier, humor, laughter, and playfulness are proven resilience enhancers when times are tough. However, there are times when humor is not healthy – mainly when used as a way to avoid or cover up painful emotions. If you tend to use humor in this way, it will backfire. Why? Because you create confusion and mistrust in your relationship when your tone, timing, or intensity is off. If humor is the only emotion, you know how to express, working on some other normal emotions such as sadness, fear, anxiety, and anger.

4.     Develop your sense of humor, playfulness, and joy by looking at what you already do as a couple that is fun or playful. Here are some ideas:

Telling jokes or funny stories

Watching funny movies, TV shows, or You Tube™ videos

Reading the funny pages

Dancing around to cheesy music

Daydreaming

Go to a comedy club

Spend time with funny people

Goof around with kids

Being silly

5.   Want to increase your laughter and joy capacity? Read Wednesday’s Blog.

Have fun lightening up your relationship this week.

© 2015 John H. Thurman Jr.